They tell you.
And tell you, and tell you, and tell you:
As I started explaining my new dietary choice to the people in my life who had noticed I wasn’t partaking of my two favourite foods (cheese and more cheese), barely an eyebrow was raised.
But when I mentioned that my two and a half-year-old son would be joining me on a vegan diet, it was a different story.
Well, yes. You’re an adult, and so entitled to make any dietary decisions, no matter how daft.
You are even entitled to make them for your child, too, but you can expect raised eyebrows if you treat your growing offspring as an experiment, or a banner to wave to show your adherence to a trendy cause.
I had taken all the facts at my disposal and made a decision – one that, after considering the health, environmental and ethical considerations, I felt was best for my son.
After a few weeks I began to suspect that this, in fact, was the problem: not that my son was on an atypical diet but that he was atypical anything.
Could it be that in a society focused on individualism, rich in diversity and multiculturalism, children’s upbringing is one of the last bastions of intolerant adherence to tradition?
Since turning vegan I have become fully engaged in making the best possible food choices for him and, after a few weeks of scraping lentil curries out of the carpet, I have noticed that he has begun cleaning his plate.
Well, what other choice does the poor little sod have? Starve?
In a world full of alarming statistics regarding the health of our children, surely people should be encouraged to discuss alternatives to the current mainstream diet.
But if my experiences of asking medical professionals for advice about veganism are anything to go by, you’re as likely to be handed a printout about potential problems and sent on your way.
If the lifestyle you’re embarking on has potential problems if not addressed correctly, wouldn’t you expect that?